Friday, 26 April 2013

A Very Vintage Affair

In spring 1963 Holdsworth House Hotel in Halifax, West Yorkshire, opened its doors to the public for the very first time. Having remained hidden away as a private residence for over 380 years, the plush hotel and restaurant proved an instant hit. Fifty glorious years later it remains as fashionable as ever and one of the county’s top wedding venues.

Whilst some things are best left in the 1960s – paisley shirts, peasant tops, bell bottoms and vinyl fabrics – other bits are far too good not to get a second airing or so say designers such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Victoria Beckham whose retro fashions were a big hit at New York Fashion Week. The trio have all reinterpreted elegant 60s dresses in their spring 2013 collections and it’s not taken the High Street long to follow suit. Mod dresses in silks, chiffons and lace are everywhere.

After seeing a recent spate of retro weddings and party outfits, we teamed up with one of the UK’s youngest vintage entrepreneurs for A Vintage Wedding fashion shoot at the historic hotel to show wedding guests how to perfect the vintage look.

23-year-old Megan Wilson, who owns Purple Rabbit Vintage Shop in Halifax’s magnificent Georgian Piece Hall, says original dresses are flying out of her shop. “We are seeing 60s fashion make a big comeback and lots of women are being creative and hunting out original dresses from that era. They can often pick up a one-off piece for a fraction of the cost of a designer dress today,” says Megan.
Holdsworth House’s owner co-owner Gail Moss is the daughter of the late Freddie and Rita Pearson who opened the hotel in 1963. Gail says, “I have so many of my mother’s original dresses that she wore whilst hosting key figures at the hotel in the 1960s - like The Beatles, The Maharaja of Baroda and Jayne Mansfield. It’s wonderful to see so many of the styles reproduced today, but you can’t beat some of the originals for their quality of finish and fabrics. It’s amazing to see these vintage dresses have now come full circle.”

Of course Halifax has long since played its part in the fashion industry. One of Britain’s top fashion designers in the 60s, Jean Muir, was a regular visitor to Holdsworth House when she was in the area buying cloth.

At Holdsworth House, we're seeing a rise in vintage themed weddings with not only the bride and groom going retro, but guests, the d├ęcor and the food as well. Wedding coordinator at Holdsworth House Claire Nicholl says, ”The popularity of vintage style afternoon tea in particular has grown in recent years. We have hosted some beautiful vintage afternoon tea weddings that use an eclectic mix of old bone china crockery, swathes of bunting and the most stunning retro flower designs. Many of our brides love to make their own stationery and table gifts too to match the vintage theme such as homemade jams or handcrafted keepsakes. It’s a theme that that goes down a storm with guests and allows the brides to get creative as well as keeping costs low.”

 Megan Wilson’s Purple Rabbit shop specialises in vintage fashion and accessories from the 1930s to the 1960s – some of which will be on display at Holdsworth House’s A Vintage Wedding Open Day on Sunday 19th May 12noon – 4pm. Tickets are free from

SUMMER WEDDING: Light pink chiffon early 1960s cocktail dress with rose bud and off the shoulder detail, £85.

MINI COUTURE: Turquoise and silver patterned late 1960s mod mini dress, £55. Mod pink and green mini dress with Peter Pan collar, £45; turquoise earrings £8.

AQUA GREEN SERENE: Aqua green silk shift dress with platted edging detail, £55. Turquoise plastic bracelet, £8. Simple 60's turquoise button earrings, £8. Feather hat, £16.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: Teal green lace overlay dress with green satin lining, £65; oversize 60s pearls, £15.

For press and media enquiries for Holdsworth House please contact Liz Howe at 07538 238936.

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